This Black Gold Retains Value

H-Town's top chefs enter battle to create most outrageously delicious truffle dishes

Top chefs compete to create most outrageously delicious truffle dishes

Houston, Truffle Chef Charity Challenge, January 2016, Kata Robata team with Chef Manabu Horiuchi, Diane Roederer.
Kata Robata's Chef Manabu Horiuchi and his winning team with event host Diane Roederer, back left. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
Houston, Truffle Chef Charity Challenge, January 2016, Chef Robert Del Grande, chef Elliott Kelly
First runners-up Chef Robert Del Grande, Chef Elliott Kelly. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
Houston, Truffle Chef Charity Challenge, January 2016, Tasting Room_Chef Michael Pellegrino, Nikki Farias, Cesar Hinojosa, Alejandro Betancourt
Cesar Hinojosa, Nikki Farais, Chef Michael Pellegrino, Alejandro Betancourt.  Photo by Daniel Ortiz
Houston, Truffle Chef Charity Challenge, January 2016, Le Mistral Chef David Denis, Diane Roederer, Elizabeth Stone
Diane Roederer, Chef David Denis, Elizabeth Stone. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
Houston, Truffle Chef Charity Challenge, January 2016, Taylor Mccarra Erika Jenschke
Erika Jenschke, Taylor McCarra. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
News, Truffle Chef Challenge, La Table chef Hassan Obaye
La Table Chef Hassan Obaye and staff. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
Houston, Truffle Chef Charity Challenge, January 2016, Josh Broussard, Mariah Evans
Josh Broussard, Mariah Evans. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
Houston, Truffle Chef Charity Challenge, January 2016, Larry Simmons, Mandy Ngo
Mandy Ngo, Larry Simmons. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
News, Truffle Chef Challenge, chef Efisio Farris
Arcodoro Chef Efisio Farris and friends. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
Houston, Truffle Chef Charity Challenge, January 2016, Mandy McGowen, Chris Manriquez
Mandy McGowen, Chris Manriquez. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
Houston, Truffle Chef Charity Challenge, January 2016, Urban Eats_Chef Jason Grigar
Chef Jason Grigar of Urban Eats. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
News, Truffle Chef Challenge, Durham House, chef Mike McElroy
Durham House chef Mike McElroy. Photo by Danielle Ortiz
Houston, Truffle Chef Charity Challenge, January 2016, Chef Kate McLean, Tod Eason
Tony's Chef Kate McLean, Tod Eason. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
Houston, Truffle Chef Charity Challenge, January 2016, January Tsai, Paige Allen, Mary Zavala
January Tsai, Paige Allen, Mary Zavala.  Photo by Daniel Ortiz
News, Truffle Chef Challenge, Tatiana Galitzine, Meredith Xavier
Tatiana Galitzine, Meredith Xavier. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
Houston, Truffle Chef Charity Challenge, January 2016, Kata Robata team with Chef Manabu Horiuchi, Diane Roederer.
Houston, Truffle Chef Charity Challenge, January 2016, Chef Robert Del Grande, chef Elliott Kelly
Houston, Truffle Chef Charity Challenge, January 2016, Tasting Room_Chef Michael Pellegrino, Nikki Farias, Cesar Hinojosa, Alejandro Betancourt
Houston, Truffle Chef Charity Challenge, January 2016, Le Mistral Chef David Denis, Diane Roederer, Elizabeth Stone
Houston, Truffle Chef Charity Challenge, January 2016, Taylor Mccarra Erika Jenschke
News, Truffle Chef Challenge, La Table chef Hassan Obaye
Houston, Truffle Chef Charity Challenge, January 2016, Josh Broussard, Mariah Evans
Houston, Truffle Chef Charity Challenge, January 2016, Larry Simmons, Mandy Ngo
News, Truffle Chef Challenge, chef Efisio Farris
Houston, Truffle Chef Charity Challenge, January 2016, Mandy McGowen, Chris Manriquez
Houston, Truffle Chef Charity Challenge, January 2016, Urban Eats_Chef Jason Grigar
News, Truffle Chef Challenge, Durham House, chef Mike McElroy
Houston, Truffle Chef Charity Challenge, January 2016, Chef Kate McLean, Tod Eason
Houston, Truffle Chef Charity Challenge, January 2016, January Tsai, Paige Allen, Mary Zavala
News, Truffle Chef Challenge, Tatiana Galitzine, Meredith Xavier

For those who thought they could never get their fill of black truffles, I would suggest that they attend the annual Truffle Chef Charity Challenge. Monday night's black gold extravaganza with 20 chefs competing to create the tastiest, most innovative dish served an almost overwhelming array of truffle delights.

The fragrance of the various dishes wafted through The Astorian as more than 300 paying guests lined up at chef stations to sample and to choose the people's choice. In each case, the creations were heavy on truffles, often billed as the most expensive mushrooms in the world. 

"I wanted to show truffles and have Houstonians try truffles one night from the best restaurants in town," said Diane Roederer, whose Houston company DR DELICACY imports black and white truffles directly from Spain and Italy. "And then I wanted to donate to culinary scholarships because we need more people involved in the culinary field here. This is the fourth largest foodie city in the world."

Proceeds from the event benefit Les Dames D'Escoffier International Scholarship Program.

A panel of judges that included CultureMap's Eric Sandler gave first place honors to Kata Robata and chef Manabu Horiuchi for the truffle cold soba noodles sauteed with mixed mushrooms and uni foam. Chefs Robert Del Grande and Elliott Kelly of RDG + Bar Annie were tapped as first runners-up for their “Breakfast of Champions” truffle and eggs dish. 

Second runner up was The Tasting Room and chef Michael Pellegrino for his sweet and savory double truffle with Himalayan honey, infused with truffle and homemade marshmallow surrounded by dark chocolate rolled in graham cracker topped with fresh truffle and sea salt.

Le Mistral chef David Denis wowed the guests with his truffle braised oxtail and fried quail egg stacker, which earned him the People's Choice Award. 

We felt for the judges who sampled all 20 dishes and then sampled five finalists before selecting the winners. As Roederer explained, "We kept it to 20 chefs because I think it's a little difficult to try more than 20 dishes with truffles. It gets a little rich."

The lively party is sure to become a must on every foodie's dance card as the night is filled with energy and talented chefs, including some who did not enter the competition but dropped by for the fun. 

In the mix were last year's winner David Cordua of Americas, Tony's Kate McLean and Jacques Fox of Artisan, who served as one of the judges. Elizabeth Stone of Silver Stone Events was on hand again as an advisor. 

Restaurants competing included Arcodoro, Arturo Boada Cuisine, B&B Butchers, BCN Taste and Traditions, Brennan’s, Corner Table, Durham House, Eculent, Etoile, La Table,  Quattro at the Four Seasons, Ristorante Cavour at Hotel Granduca, Sparrow, Triniti, Urban Eats, and Weights + Measures.

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